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Wednesday papers: Strike settlement near, falling immigrant appeal, farmers and climate

Most papers reported Wednesday that a settlement in Finland's postal workers strike may be seen during the morning hours.

Posti- ja logistiikka-alan unioni PAU:n puheenjohtaja Heidi Nieminen (edessä selin) ja Palvelualojen työnantajat Palta ry:n toimitusjohtaja Tuomas Aarto (oik) jatkoivat avustajineen postilakon sovittelua valtakunnansovittelijan toimistolla Helsingissä sunnuntaina 24. marraskuuta 2019.
End-game talks on the postal workers' strike have been held at the office of the National Labour Conciliator. Image: Seppo Samuli / Lehtikuva

Finland's largest circulation daily Helsingin Sanomat was among the paper reporting that the postal workers strike, which has spawned widespread labour action, edged closer to a settlement late on Tuesday.

National Labour Conciliator Vuokko Piekkala put forward a new compromise proposal aimed at ending the strike. Union and employer representatives were scheduled to reconvene for talks at the Conciliator’s office at 10am on Wednesday.

Neither side to the dispute was willing to divulge the contents of the settlement proposal.

Pressure on employers has grown, with a number of other unions taking action in support of postal workers. If no settlement is reached, a work stoppage by longshoremen threatens to close down the nation's ports on Thursday morning.

If it continues

The newsstand tabloid Iltalehti has some comforting news for rail travellers. If the postal strike is not settled and train departures are cancelled due to labour action in support of postal workers, ticket holders will be able to get a full refund.

The rail workers union RAU has issued warnings of work stoppages that could affect long-distance passenger trains on the 3rd and 9th of December.

A spokesperson for the state railway firm VR told Iltalehti that in the case of cancellations, ticket holder will be able to either reschedule at no extra cost, or receive a full refund.

Finland's falling appeal

The economic and business daily Kauppalehti writes that immigration to Finland from other EU countries is at its lowest for over a decade.

The paper credits Juhana Brotherus, the chief economist for the Hypo financial services group, with compiling figures showing that immigration from the EU area into Finland was last at the current level in 1997.

Commenting on his findings, Brotherus told Kauppalehti that an ageing Finland is sorely in need of work-based immigration.

He made special note of the net decline in immigration from Estonia. "The turnaround in the flow of Estonia migration is one big factor. The background can be found in the country's strong economic upswing," said Juhana Brotherus.

He went on to note that while other EU countries have been recruiting skilled employees from abroad, Finland has really not made an effort to do so.

"Right now, the IT sector is boosting the economy. Skilled workers in this field can afford to choose where they go. Finland, cold, with few English-speaking support networks, stressing Finnish-language skills, is fighting against the tide," Brotherus told Kauppalehti.

"Finland needs to step up its game, if it wants to even stay where it is," he concluded.

Lacking diversity in higher education

Helsingin Sanomat carries a feature story about how students with a foreign background (by which HS says it means people whose parents were born abroad) are underrepresented in institutes of higher education, both academic and vocational, in the capital region.

Based on data Helsingin Sanomat requested from Statistics Finland, the article says that between 2010 and 2018, the number of students of foreign background at these universities and colleges grew from 7.2 percent to 10.8 percent.

Despite this growth, there continues to be a mismatch between the number of students in the category, and the proportion of residents of foreign background in the Helsinki region. That group has group has grown from 10.5 percent of the population in 2010 to 16.8 percent in 2018.

According to Helsingin Sanomat, one in six pupils in Helsinki schools is of foreign background.

Farmers and climate

The agricultural sector newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus reports that the head of the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK) forecasts that Finland needs to boost the climate-sustainable food production by 50 percent.

MTK chairman Juha Marttila told a gathering in Helsinki on Tuesday emission from agriculture can be cut in half at the same time through more efficient production, carbon traps and the use of renewable energy sources. He also stated that while the general public in Finland has awakened to the threats of climate change only in the past few years, the farmers' union has been actively engaged in the debate since the 1990's

"There is now a panic, but that won't help in doing anything rational. One should be calm and seek solutions," said Marttila.

He urged agricultural producers to defend their profession on social media, to "fire off facts", even though they can expect some aggressive responses.

"It is a marginal group on social media raising a ruckus about agriculture. Don't give in. We are on the right side of history," said MTK chairman Juha Marttila.

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